Brussels Daily
19 Jun 2018


Brussels Daily


Today the Commission is renewing the initiative ‘Stairway to Excellence’, to continue to provide tailored support and expertise to regions lagging behind in terms of innovation.

The initiative will help regions develop, update and refine their smart specialisation strategies – that is, their regional innovation strategies based on niche areas of competitive strengths – ahead of the start of the 2021-2027 budgetary period. It will also help them identify adequate EU resources to finance innovative projects, and pair up with other regions with similar assets to create innovation clusters. Following the Commission’s proposals for the future Cohesion Policy, the new ‘Horizon Europe’ programme, and in line with the Commission’s renewed agenda for Research and Innovation, ‘Stairway to Excellence’ is another way the Commission is helping Europe’s regions prepare for the future, with solid innovation strategies supported by EU funds in the next long-term EU budget for 2021-2027. Mire information here


Eurostat: First estimates for 2017 – Wide variation of consumption per capita across EU Member States – GDP per capita ranged from 49% to 253% of EU average

Actual Individual Consumption (AIC) is a measure of material welfare of households. Based on first preliminary estimates for 2017, AIC per capita expressed in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS) varied from 55% to 130% of the European Union (EU) average across the Member States. A Eurostat press release is available here.




Commission Decision to facilitate extension of the maturities of European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM) loans to Ireland and Portugal

Decisions have been adopted authorising the Commission to issue bonds on behalf of the EU in order to facilitate extensions of the maturities of loans made to Ireland and Portugal under the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM), as was agreed in 2013. These Decisions to allow for an extension of maturities of EFSM loans are provided for in the Council Decision on granting financial assistance to Ireland and the Council Decision on granting financial assistance to Portugal. While Ireland and Portugal maintain good access to financial markets, extending the maturity of EFSM loans will further smoothen and extend the countries’ debt maturity profiles. This will result in savings in debt service costs for Ireland and Portugal, contribute to continued prudent debt management and send a positive signal to financial markets.



Climate action: Commissioner Arias Cañete convenes global ministerial meeting in Brussels with Canada and China

On 20-21 June, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete, the Canadian Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and China’s Special Representative on Climate Change Xie Zhenhua are convening a major international climate meeting in Brussels. The second Ministerial on Climate Action (MoCA) will be attended by ministers and high-level representatives from over 35 countries, including ministers from the G20 and chairs of key party groupings in the UN climate negotiations. Day one of the meeting will focus on the expected outcomes of the UN climate conference COP24 in December in Katowice, Poland while day two will address key matters relating to the work programme of the Paris Agreement. As we move towards COP24, leadership will be crucial for addressing the core political issues in global climate discussions and building common ground to support the UN negotiating process. At the UN climate conference in Katowice, political discussions will take place on progress towards the Paris objectives and how we can raise global climate ambition, a high-level ministerial dialogue on climate finance and the global stocktake on pre-2020 action. The opening of this year’s MoCA (Wednesday 20 June, 15:00-15:30 CET) will be transmitted live on Europe by Satellite. A filming and photo opportunity for media will be offered to which accreditation is required by sending name, surname, passport/national ID number and the media organisation to More information about last year’s MoCA is available here


Eurostat: April 2018 compared with March 2018-Production in construction up by 1.8% in euro area-Up by 1.2% in EU28

In April 2018 compared with March 2018, seasonally adjusted production in the construction sector increased by 1.8% in the euro area (EA19) and by 1.2% in the EU28, according to first estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In March 2018, production in construction fell by 0.2% in the euro area andby 0.8% in the EU28. A Eurostat press release is available here.



Juncker Plan: European Investment Fund and Erste Group sign €50 million deal to finance social enterprises in Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Serbia

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and all seven Erste Group member banks have signed a Social Entrepreneurship guarantee agreement to provide finance for social organisations under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). This new guarantee agreement allows Erste Group’s network of local banks to provide a total of €50 million in loans to at least 500 social organisations over the next five years in Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Serbia. This new financing agreement was made possible by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the core of the Investment Plan for Europe. The Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: “The European Commission is fully committed to promoting inclusive entrepreneurship as part of the fight against social and financial exclusion. I therefore warmly welcome today’s agreement with Erste Group, which will support some 500 social enterprises in Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia and lastly Hungary, where it is even the first agreement of its kind. Thanks to this agreement, social enterprises will get support in starting up and developing their business, thereby creating jobs and inclusive growth at the grass-roots level.” Social entrepreneurs and non-profit organisations will be able to benefit from loans at a reduced interest rate and with lower collateral requirements under the EU supported programme. The Group will provide financing to a vast range of social enterprise sectors, targeting innovative, socially-oriented organisations active in the area of education, health, social services or employment of disadvantaged, marginalized, or vulnerable groups.


Commission welcomes agreement to improve the functioning of Eurojust and boost cooperation between national authorities against cross-border crime

Today, the Commission welcomes the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the EU Member States on the reform of the Eurojust agency, which helps EU national judicial authorities to team up and to fight against cross-border crime and terrorism. The new rules will facilitate the cooperation between Eurojust and its national members, with national authorities, with Europol and other agencies, such as European Border and Coast Guard Agency or the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). The new rules will also allow for a close cooperation between Eurojust and the futureEuropean Public Prosecutor Office, which will be a specialised body to investigate and prosecute crimes against the EU budget, such as corruption or fraud with EU funds, or cross-border VAT fraud. Finally, the new rules will ensure that the European Parliament and national Parliaments are more involved in assessing Eurojust’s activities. Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová said: “Every year, Eurojust helps facilitate cooperation between national authorities in their investigations and prosecutions. In 2017 alone, Eurojust delivered concrete support in 4,500 investigations in all Member States and in cases which matter most to our citizens: terrorism, illegal migration and cybercrime, to name just a few.” Recently Eurojust has helped solve cases, such as the dismantlinga drug smuggling and money laundering network active in Germany, Italy and Spain; supporting the investigation of the alleged fraud in the FIFA or solving a murder case within 24 hours, with European Arrest Warrants and European Investigation Orders involving Hungary, Germany and Austria. The provisional agreement reached today during the final trilogues, must now be formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. Following approval, the Regulation will be published in the EU’s Official Journal and enter into force 20 days later. Eurojust’s annual report is available here.


Greener and more secure electricity in Madeira thanks to EU funds

€45 million from the Cohesion Fund is invested to upscale the production of electricity from water and wind on the island of Madeira, an autonomous region of Portugal and one of the EU’s nine Outermost regions. The project further improves the stability of electricity supply on the island off the northwest coast of Africa. Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Crețu, said: “I am proud to see what a difference Cohesion Policy investments can make to citizens in Europe’s outermost regions. The new, highly innovative and sustainable power station will help Madeira reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as well as its dependence on fossil fuels – this is good news for the environment and the local economy at the same time.” The upgrade of an existing hydro power plant will triple production capacity to more than 38 megawatt. In addition, a new 17.7 megawatt pump storage facility together with a 1 million cubic metre water storage dam will make it possible to store created wind energy when there is an excess in supply, so additional electricity can be provided during periods of high demand.The new installations will benefit 130 000 consumers, half of Madeira’s inhabitants. When presenting its proposals for the future Cohesion Policy on 29 May, the Commission had also proposed to further increase the contribution of Cohesion Policy investments to climate action in the next budgetary period.


Humanitarian aid: EU releases €68 million for Sudan and South Sudan

The Commission has announced today €68 million in humanitarian assistance for vulnerable communities in Sudan and South Sudan. The funding comes as millions of people across both countries are in need of assistance, with the conflict in South Sudan triggering an influx of refugees into neighbouring Sudan. “The EU is stepping up its support as many people in Sudan and South Sudan face massive humanitarian needs. Our aid will provide essential supplies such as food and healthcare and allow our partners to continue their lifesaving work on the ground. Above all, it is crucial that humanitarian workers can deliver aid safely so they can help those most in need. Aid workers are not a target.” said Commissioner or Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. Read the full press release here.


EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey: Steering Committee discusses strategic orientation for the second €3 billion tranche

Yesterday the tenth Steering Committee meeting of the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey met in Brussels. The Committee discussed the strategic orientation for the second tranche of €3 billion as part of the EU-Turkey Statement of March 2016, as well as the implementation progress of projects on the ground and their valuable impact on improving Syrian refugees’ lives and host communities in Turkey. Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said: “The EU is continuing to show its commitment in supporting the Syrian refugees and host communities in Turkey, with projects in full implementation mode. Turkey is making a remarkable effort to host more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees; the EU needs to act swiftly to ensure that funds under the second tranche can be mobilised quickly.” Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, said: “The EU continues to make a difference in the daily lives of many refugees in Turkey. With 72 projects underway, we remain committed to help Turkey host the largest refugee population in the world. Our humanitarian funding is helping the most vulnerable refugees meet their basic needs, access health services and education, and receive protection.” The full press release is available online as well as the dedicated factsheet.


State aid: Commission approves aid for financing the orderly market exit of Cyprus Cooperative Bank Ltd, involving sale of some parts to Hellenic Bank

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, Cypriot measures to facilitate the liquidation of Cyprus Cooperative Bank (CCB) under national law. The public support will finance the orderly market exit of CCB, through the sale and full integration of some activities into another credit institution (Hellenic Bank) and the wind down of the rest of the bank. CCB’s residual entity will be entirely focused on working out its remaining assets, which will limit potential distortions of competition arising from the aid. This transaction will remove about €6 billion of non-performing loans from the Cypriot banking sector and thereby contribute to its recovery. The Commission was able to take this decision also on the basis of significant binding commitments by Cyprus to reform its domestic legal and judicial framework. These reforms will underpin the long-term viability of Hellenic Bank (as well as the entire Cypriot banking system) and allow the Cypriot State to recover money over time from the workout of CCB’s non-performing loans. The measures are the final steps in the restructuring process of CCB, which was initiated by the Cypriot authorities in February 2014 and modified in December 2015. Non-governmental deposits will remain fully protected at all times. Commissioner in charge of competition policy, Margrethe Vestager said: “The Commission decision approves under EU rules Cypriot plans to take measures to facilitate the liquidation of CCB. CCB will exit the market in an orderly fashion, while some of its activities will be sold and integrated into Hellenic Bank. Deposits of Cypriot households and non-financial corporations will remain fully protected at all times. The approved measures will remove around €6 billion of non-performing loans from the Cypriot banking sector. This, together with Cyprus’ commitment to implement key reforms to its legal framework, will help foster the stability and recovery of the Cypriot banking sector.” A full press release is available online  here.


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Sumitomo Mitsui Finance and Leasing Company by Sumitomo Corporation and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the joint acquisition of Sumitomo Mitsui Finance and Leasing Company (“FL”) and its wholly-owned subsidiary SMFL Capital Co. Limited (“FLC”), by Sumitomo Corporation and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (“FG”). In addition, the insurance and auto leasing businesses of FLC will be transferred to a company controlled by Sumitomo Corporation. All companies are based in Japan. FL, which is currently solely controlled by FG, primarily provides general leasing, loans, factoring, aircraft leasing and auto leasing services. Sumitomo Corporation is active in various sectors, such as the trading of metal products, transportation, media, mineral resources, energy, chemicals and electronics. FG offers a full range of financial services, including corporate banking, retail banking and investment banking. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because the companies´ combined market shares remain less than 20% for horizontal relationships, and their combined or individual market shares is less than 30% for vertical relationships. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8927.


Joint Statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict

On the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, Federica Mogherini, High Representative/Vice-President, Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, and Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, made the following statement:“Sexual violence against women and girls, boys and men is a despicable crime, and even more so when it occurs in situations of conflict, or as a tactic of war. It is a grave violation of human rights and international humanitarian law. [..] The European Union always has and will continue to condemn and fight sexual violence in conflict with the strongest commitment. All survivors must be guaranteed access to comprehensive psychological and health care services, as well as justice and reparations. We expect all states to conduct effective investigation of those crimes, to bring perpetrators to justice and to ensure accountability for past crimes, also to prevent future atrocities. […] The EU has been working hand in hand with its Member States, international partners, and civil society to enshrine the respect of fundamental human rights in peacebuilding efforts worldwide. […] We will continue investing in raising awareness, while building more equal, educated and respectful societies within and outside our borders. […] We are fully determined to continue taking concrete actions to prevent and eliminate sexual and gender-based violence, in times of peace or conflict.” Read the full statement here.

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